The study surveyed participants of the annual ReefBlitz citizen science event. The series of events across Queensland brings together diverse coastal and marine programs to collect a snapshot of important indicators of reef health and highlight how the community can help the reef.
Dr Angela Dean from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) said the findings are encouraging for citizen science projects and are relatable to other programs.
“Getting outside and involved in citizen science projects is potentially an empowering experience, but there was next to no data about how it affects participants,” said Dr Dean.
“We found that more than half of people attending a reef citizen science event were likely to adopt a new behaviour to help reefs.
“Surprisingly, when we looked at what parts of the experience led to this, we found that it wasn’t learning facts about reefs – we found that learning about facts alone made people less likely to take action for reefs.
“What did work was allowing people to see what the problems are, and showing them how to do something about it. So it is important we make reef issues and solutions real for people, rather than just throwing facts.”
ReefBlitz is an annual event that brings together multiple citizen science programs to help Queensland communities collect a snapshot of information relevant to reef health.
In 2016, members of the Reef Citizen Science Alliance actively engaged more than 1,600 participants to collect more than 28,000 pieces of data through activities along the coast of Queensland.
ReefBlitz will be held again in 2018, with lots of events for International Year of the Reef. For more information visit www.reefblitz.com
Jennifer Loder, Coordinator of the Reef Citizen Science Alliance, says this research highlights the valuable role of citizen science programs as a pathway to help more people look after Queensland’s reefs.
“Citizen science organisations see first-hand the power of programs all the time, for both for science and for citizens,” she said.
"But research like this is critical to build a broader understanding about the positive outcomes.”
Media: Angela Dean, firstname.lastname@example.org; CEED Communications, Casey Fung, email@example.com, 0433 638 643.